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About Bay Harbor

The mission of the Bay Harbor Foundation is to provide assistance to nonprofit cultural, educational, environmental, health & human service organizations throughout Northern Michigan.

Please visit the Bay Harbor Foundation Website.

In November of 2003, a group of devoted local business leaders, Bay Harbor Residents and philanthropists gathered together with a vision. This vision was to help improve the quality of life in Northern Lower Michigan, and they began the process of bringing it to life by creating the Bay Harbor Foundation, an organization that would follow in the footsteps of the already established tradition of dedicated summer resort philanthropists. Their goal was to connect the new community of Bay Harbor with the philanthropic tradition of giving that has nurtured the area for the past 100 years.

Over the past ten years the Bay Harbor Foundation has distributed nearly $1.5 million to 81 nonprofit organizations in Northern Lower Michigan. The Foundation’s mission is to provide a process for receiving donations and distributing grants that provide programs in the arts, education, a scholar program, the environment, health & human services, and they are dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of the community.

Two important elements of the founding principles of the Bay Harbor Foundation were to enhance the year-round presence of the Bay Harbor Community as a giving and caring group of individuals, and to provide its members and residents of Bay Harbor with an expeditious way to fund the areas of the community that would benefit most from their generosity.

As Bay Harbor Foundation Chairman Scot Morrison states, “The success of the Foundation is guided by the persistence and dedication of our board of directors and staff. We research, interview and go through an intensive vetting process for each grant proposal, and take our work very seriously. We use our talents and expertise to guide the vision of the Foundation.”

This year, the Foundation provided funding to help many regional health and human service organizations, one of which was the Manna Food Project’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. Even in Northern Michigan there are children who are going to school hungry, which makes it difficult for them to learn. Through a grant award, they were able to help the Backpack Program distribute 5,200 bags of food to area children compromised by hunger.

Despite the work done by government programs and other relief organizations in our region, there are families that are still struggling to make ends meet. To assist these families, The Bay Harbor Foundation partnered with the Good Samaritans to provide funding for emergency heating fuel to help keep families together in their own homes. The Foundation also provided funding to the Friendship Centers of Emmet County’s Senior Essential Needs Fund, which allows the Council on Aging to respond quickly and effectively to help seniors who face unexpected hardship.

The fundraising challenges faced by the Bay Harbor Foundation are the same as they were a hundred years ago in this region. Many Bay Harbor residents are here only through the summer months, and so the Foundation has to be very creative in raising revenue in a short period of time. In addition to their donor campaigns, the Foundation is challenged to create event fundraisers that are successful and memorable. Through these events, a great deal of the funding is raised for program and grant activities, as well as corporate sponsorships that assist in underwriting the administrative expenses of the Foundation.

The Bay Harbor Foundation’s fundraisers are held within the Bay Harbor community to keep them close to the Foundation’s donor base, and so that the Foundation does not compete with other nonprofit organizations in the area. Among the Foundation’s annual events are a philanthropic dinner and auction, a chili cook-off, a 5K run / walk, a Derby day, fashions shows, a yard sale, golf tournaments, a home tour, an appreciation evening, and the Bay Harbor Vintage Car and Boat Festival which kicks off the summer season in Bay Harbor every June.

Over the past three years, Festival Director and summer resident, Barbara Parfet has developed this event to be one of top five best attended vintage car and boat shows in the Midwest. Car and boat collectors come from as far away as California and New Jersey to attend the four-day event. Barbara Parfet said of the Festival, “Very dear to my heart are the many nonprofit organizations that will benefit from the proceeds of this weekend of events. We all work very hard to make sure the need of our local area nonprofit organizations are met.”


Bay Harbor Foundation